Sunday, December 14, 2014

Get on the Social Scene

The days are getting really short now. I have always liked this time of year. Not because of the long nights but because soon, very soon the days will start to grow longer again.

This season is also party time.

Last week my local chapter of California Council of the Blind had their Christmas party. It was great fun at a local 'Old Spaghetti House' Restaurant.

One thing I highly recommend a blind or visually impaired person to do is to try and join a local group of people like the CCB, various States have their own groups affiliated to the American Council of the Blind or the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

I only joined the Fresno Chapter of California Council of the Blind in July. To be honest I only heard of the group in June. Now I am only saddened by the not knowing of them beforehand.

Joining with a group of people who share a similar experience is good for you. Some of the members have been blind since birth, some blinded by injury others have progressive visual impairment from a variety of disorders. But the group is very friendly and we have some good meetings.

The fact is blindness is isolating and meeting these people  eases lots of the loneliness of blindness. We laugh at the way sighted people often behave, we share tips on the latest gadgets, it all builds into a positive experience.

For instance last month some of us took in items we use as aids. Some shared their ideas of the latest apps others gave tips on how to arrange basic chores to make them easier.

Because of the group I am even getting to learn my Braille alphabet. The group spreads the social scale from retired to young people, a recently qualified chef to teachers and social workers. All of whom have something special to add to the group.

So if you haven't examined the idea before, as a New Year's Resolution why not take a look at what groups there are in your area.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus: First Opinions

I have had an iPhone 6 Plus for almost ttwo weeks now. It has been a fun time. As you may have guessed I am very happy with my Apple experience.

Here is some background: I only bought my first Apple product an iPad Air in June. Having been shown some of the things that Apple phones and tablets can do by a great guy at Guide Dogs for the Blind. He is a fellow guide dog user, he actually has Leif, my guide dog's, half sister and most importantly he is a programmer at Apple in Cupertino. So he knows his stuff about the product and how to use them.

I had been looking to buy a new phone for a while and when I heard of the new iPhone 6 I decided to wait until they were released and then buy an old "reduced price 5's." but the 5's did not come down in price and a 6 Plus was only $100 more to purchase on my current phone plan. So I waited almost two months for the iPhone 6 Plus to be in a store at the right time.

I had limited choice of color, only silver were available at the store but since I am blind and I was going to buy a case anyway. Why bother about colors for the phone.

The phone was set up to take my fingerprint to allow it to work. You also need to set up an unlock code at the same time in order to act as a back-up if the fingerprint system fails. This was good for me as the case I bought means I can't use the fingerprint scan very easily. Fat fingers don't make contact as easily it seems.

Siri, the built in assistant now works if the phone is charging, you can say "Hey Siri!" and Siri activates to do your bidding.

I use Siri to check my stock portfolio, help me call numbers from my contact list and send text messages.  Siri will also read me texts (the last text received) or will tell me what e-mails I have received.

I also like that I can say to Siri, call 571 XXX 1234 when a phone  number is not in my contacts and Siri will dial the number for me. That is a great deal easier than trying to fiddle with a piece of paper trying to read a number, trying to dial in a number as you do so with fingers that hit two numbers at one time. That was sometimes the situation with my old phone/

Siri's voice is clear,  I personally prefer the male voices which are easily changeable in the settings area. I haven't tried Voice Over on the iPhone yet. Just not had time to play around with that function yet, but if it is as good as on the iPad Air there will be few complaints.

So in all after two weeks I am happy with a phone that I can use and functions that are now easily available.

I will keep you posted as I learn more iPhone tricks. Until then maybe you should take a look at this book :


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Walking Through Molasses

Do you ever feel sometimes that you are walking through molasses to get to a goal?

Recently I have felt just that way. Every step forward in recent weeks seems to be at such an effort it hardly seems that I am making progress.

In the summer I made attempts to get the training that I missed out on when I first went blind five years ago. Training in using adaptive technology, training in just living, cooking, organizing. What I now have is a series of ad hoc skills thaat I put together for myself, re-inventing the wheel at every problem.

Anyway earlier this summer I learned that there was no need for that, there are teachers out there to assess and train you and I for those problems. The only problem.

We have to be introduced. We cannot access them ourselves. Civil Servants have to introduce us and agree to pay for the services.

Civil Servant bereaucrats who are the molasses at our feet.

After six months now. I have had an assessment for independent living skilss, a low vision assessment and am waiting on a  workplace assessment.

The low vision test has already bourne fruit, I go to collect some eye glasses on Monday.

The independent living skills has led to an interview and they are recommending actions.

The workplace assessment has been postponed twice by either the assessing agency or my employer.

It is just so frustrating that after five years of inaction and ignoring my requests for help, that now the powers that be just continue to slow down every possible movement forward.

Maybe instead of embedding our feet in the molasses of bureaucracy they should just hang us from our feet and drown us in the damn stuff,

Friday, October 24, 2014

Waiting for my iPhone 6 Plus

Have you seen anyone with an iPhone 6 plus yet?

I haven't. And no that is not just because I am blind, thank you.

No one has come up to me to show their bright new  shiney phone. No-one has called me to tell me they have a nice new iPhone 6 Plus. They  seem only to exist in the realms of TV advertisements and on the showcase stands of my local Best Buy stores.

I have seen one. I even liked the look and feel of the nice display one whivch I first drooled over  almost six weeks ago now.

I had planned on upgrading my old phone to an iPhone 5 when the price fell after the release of the sixes, but that didn't happen. In fact to upgrade from my old phone to an iPhone 5 would cost me only $100 less than to go all-in with the iPhone 6 Plus.

So why not go for that product.

I now sit patiently waiting. I call my phone company, I call Apple, and I call Best Buy.

"Have you an iPhone 6 Plus?" I ask hopefully.

The reply always the same "Not yet."

I long to ask Sirie to make my calls, I want to send texts again, I yearn to be able to take a good photograph on its magnificent camera.

I Wanna be a Geek again!

Sadly I'll have to wait a bit longer. Dreaming of the day when I will hold the sleek line of its body in my hand.  Caressing its screen. Texting and posting merrily.

Or maybe I'll just wait 23 months until the iPhone 7 comes out and I can get the 6plus for the same price as a 5 now?


To read my first opinions of the iPhone 6 Plus click here  iPhone6--plus-first-opinions.





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The Geek Mug by Bretsuki
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Support Fresno Chapter, California Council for the Blind

One of the best tools for a blind person to use is, apart from their white cane or guide dog, a support network.

Earlier this summer I was a little adrift as to where to go for help and just a welcoming laugh.

Then I heard that Fresno has a Chapter of the California for the Blind (CCB).

The group recently arranged a fundraiser for the Chapter and I was able to attend. The group offers lots of social help, someone has most certainly already overcome a problem which you are encountering or at least knows a way to get past any obstacles  either with government bereaucracy or just how to get that particular new app to work on your iPhone.

I do design some Teeshirts and have come across a crowd funding Teeshirt printer.

You can help me raise some extra much needed fundds for this great chapter to expand its work in both the sighted and blind communities in and around Fresno.

See the Teeshirt, hoodie or garment of your choice at Support is the Best Tool T-Shirt

Please feel free to share or tweet the link. We need only sell 50 products to support this great group.


For more information on the  Fresno Chapter of CCB See their Facebook Page